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Winter Gardens and Gardening in the California Bay Area

Updated on December 8, 2013

California Sunflowers and Blue Skies

I love this photo-it was taken in November of 2007 in my California Garden
I love this photo-it was taken in November of 2007 in my California Garden | Source

Gardening in California - How Lucky Can I Be?

I haven't been a hard core gardener for very long - but one thing I have come to realize is that I am blessed to be able to be have my garden here in in California. After reading other gardeners horror stories about freezes, droughts, tough soil and desert conditions, I realize that there is probably no better place to learn how to garden than in California. I can garden even in the winter!

Our weather is mild (well usually anyway) our conditions are favorable, and our soil is great for the most part ( I live in the SF Bay Area so my soil is just peachy) - and the best part- gardeners can pretty much garden all year round here. It's not unusual to see summer plants growing in winter, and vice versa. All the rules of gardening kind of go out the window here - so I've found that it pays to be creative and try anything at just about any time of year.

OK so now that I've got you completely jealous because of my wonderful locale - and the fact that I can garden when you might not be able to, let me back off a bit and say that I have the utmost respect for those of you that have to garden under less than favorable conditions. To me you are truly the hardcore gardeners, and my hat goes off to you!

California Nasturtiums in Winter

Apparently I was only supposed to see these Nasturtiums in summer- but where I live they grew in the winter months for me
Apparently I was only supposed to see these Nasturtiums in summer- but where I live they grew in the winter months for me | Source

Gardening in the Moonlight

I started gardening in California as a kid growing up, tending plants alongside my dad, never realizing how lucky I was to be living and gardening in California (I'm a homegrown Californian) Never really being much into plants, I really never did much more gardening until my 40's, when gardening became therapy for my soul during the time my parents became ill than their subsequent deaths.

Gardening became almost an obsession for me at that point, and it would not be unusual to find me out in my garden even at night! (the only thing bad about gardening at night is those pesky critters and those not so obvious creepy crawlers!)

Armed with floodlights, I would go out into my wondrous patch of earth, and till the soil and plant bulbs with no problem under the moonlight (I'm sure my neighbors must have thought I was losing my mind by that point) Seriously though, this was when it really started to sink in how very fortunate I was to live in an area that I could garden at night - and that got me thinking about the fact that was fortunate to live in a place like California where gardening could be done at just about any time!

Daffodils in October?

As the years rolled on I came to realize that gardening in California meant that I could get away with growing things that other gardeners in other less hospitable states could not do - like growing sunflowers in November!

Last year I had a sunflower plant that had about 50 flowers on it in the middle of November.... and I almost got away with keeping it until December until a fierce wind snapped the stalk! If I had staked it up I could have probably got it to last until January (so yes - some rules of gardening do still apply to California gardeners!)

The other thing I have found is that I can start seeds at almost anytime of the year, and that I can get bulbs to grow at times they aren't supposed to (I still haven't tried Daffodils in October but that's on my to do list this year)

Try Gardening at Odd Times

I hope you have enjoyed these pictures of my California garden....and I hope that although some of you may not live in as temperate a zone as I do, maybe you will consider planting something at an odd time and see what happens! Who knows, you may get away with it and feel like your gardening in California too!

(Dorsi Diaz is a freelance writer/publisher,artist,photographer and gardener that lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Please feel free to leave comments and subscribe to her RSS feed so you can be notified when she publishes a new article. Thanks for reading!)

California Sunflowers in Winter

This was a breathtaking sunflower- I planted some more of these this year- beautiful rust color!!
This was a breathtaking sunflower- I planted some more of these this year- beautiful rust color!! | Source

More Sunflowers in Winter

This was a flourishing plant until a fierce wind took it down in November
This was a flourishing plant until a fierce wind took it down in November | Source


Submit a Comment
  • Dorsi profile imageAUTHOR

    Dorsi Diaz 

    8 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

    @Tom) Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I am glad to hear that you found gardening therapeutic, like I did. Gardens in California are amazing. I am sorry to hear about your mom. Thanks again for stopping by.

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    my story is pretty much the same as your Dorsi. my mom died that I loved more than life and started Gardening. my mom was dead more than a year before I started gardening. but it has been a Blessing and very calming to the nerves. my Garden did not do all that well this year but its my first year Gardening I will learn. I am starting my own worm composting bin so my soil will be better next year. Bye and God bless Dorsi.

  • Dorsi profile imageAUTHOR

    Dorsi Diaz 

    9 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

    Ah spring is almost here and my garden here in California has been sadly neglected! Thanks everyone for stopping by and hope you have a great time gardening this spring!!

  • profile image

    Easy Vegetarian Recipes 

    10 years ago

    Indeed, you are a lucky person to be able to garden and live in California. I'm from the Midwest, and this is my first year gardening. And it seems like it was one horror story after another.

    May be California is the place to be! Gardening that is.

    Thanks for the article.

  • Pest profile image


    10 years ago from A couch, Ionia, MI

    Momma has one of those too, for her "tobacco". I tried to sneak some lettuce in with her "tobacco" with some success, but she was on to me the day she loaded up her bong with Romaine!...Not a good idea for me either, after about three accidental hemp salads I had to enter rehab.

  • goldentoad profile image


    10 years ago from Free and running....

    Gardening is a big industry in California, especially up north, Humboldt to be exact, I have friends and neighbors who are gardeners and they happy, year round, and Pest, they have perfected hydroponic gardening in California, maybe you should research it for your situation.

  • Pest profile image


    10 years ago from A couch, Ionia, MI

    I am envious! I have about four months to get all of my gardening in here in Minnesota. I will actually be looking at germinating my vegetables and melons indoors in about a month. Then I have to transplant.

  • sfharper profile image


    11 years ago from Winter Springs, FL

    I love sunflowers, I grew them one hot summer but this year we're too wet and cold. Nice article :) Sheri

  • SusanBonfiglio profile image


    11 years ago from Woodmere, NY


    I am not a gardner. I live in an apartment but I love sun flowers. Thank you so much for the article and the beautiful sunflowers from your garden.


  • amy jane profile image

    amy jane 

    11 years ago from Connecticut

    I am not a gardner, but I am jealous of your beautiful weather! Our winters are long here, without a flower in sight. Lucky lady!

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 

    11 years ago from New Brunswick

    a long growing season, ah envious I am.

  • bjjp profile image


    11 years ago from Oklahoma, USA

    Good hub Dorsi. It is interesting how much shorter our growing season is here in Oklahoma than it is in California. We can still raise a lot of vegetables and fruits however. We begin planting April and the first frost is usually in October.

    I can also remember following along behind my dad and mom as they used one of those push plows to make the rows and us kids would follow along behind planting the seeds/tomato plants/etc. and then covering them up. We always knew when it was close to spring because that was when we got to go barefoot and it felt so good to feel the warm dirt on our feet. The part of gardening I hated was the pulling weeds part. Mom always said we had to get the whole thing, roots and all or they would grow back. We then had to throw them clear out of the garden because if we didn't they would grow back when the roots touched the dirt.

    My grandpa was also very proud of his garden and he wouldn't let a weed have a chance to grow in his garden. He spent hours out there in that garden. I often wondered if part of the reason for that was to get out of earshot of grandma. If he was out there, he couldn't hear her yell at him. I think he found solitude out there.

    Gardening relieves stress and it is also a lot of fun. I love being outdoors and I love to stay busy so I plant things. It is also very healthy to eat the organic tomatoes and peppers I am growing. Can't wait to pick some. Won't be long now.


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